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Intern Program

Samango Monkey Field Work – Headed by Karin Saks – primate naturalist (Darwin Primate Group NPO) in conjunction with FREEME KZN Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (NPO/PBO) and affiliated to African Insight.
Position Description:
Conservation Volunteers are needed for a samango monkey research project based in the Midlands, KZN in South Africa.

There are no official prerequisites for our program. Students need a desire to learn, a passion for primates and wilderness, motivation to work in the field in sometimes uncomfortable conditions, and the ability to hike in rough terrain.

 1. As there are two self-catering units - designed to take two volunteers each -  for our two-week program. The two-week program is an excursion for small groups into the indigenous forest to find the samango troops making it a highly exclusive experience.(Approximately fifty percent of your donation will go to Freeme Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, KZN.) 

2. For those wishing to join this program for more than one month, we have a cheaper alternative. Please contact us for more details. 
Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Volunteers will be housed in self-catering accommodation. Each volunteer will receive a handbook comprised of course “tools” which include a botany key, animal signs in the area and awareness heightening techniques,  

Email us to book or to find out more about this program at:

Accommodation at Freeme Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre overlooks the uMNGENI VALLEY (see link for hiking, wildlife and other activities):


There are two approaches to this project. One is to collect data to ascertain the health of samango monkey populations and their habitat (compulsory) and the other is to complement this by reconnecting with nature (optional).


Habitat loss and fragmentation is the greatest threat to primate populations worldwide. South African forests are characterised by a highly fragmented distribution and are the countries smallest - comprising about 0.1 % of the area (1 062 km2) - most fragmented and most vulnerable biome. A crucial aspect of forest conservation is the maintenance of gene flow - which requires allowing seed dispersers and pollinators to move along the corridors between forest patches; given that the seed dispersing habits of monkeys and in this case, samangos, are important for forest integrity, maintaining gene flow is not only relevant to preserving the samango but is also likely to be important for understanding the forests in which they reside.
Further research into the genetics, distribution and behavioural ecology of samango monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis - sub-species; Cercopithecus albogularis erythrarchus, C. a. labiatus, and Cercopithecus albogularis schwarzi) is needed in order to ascertain the extent to which human intervention has impacted on this species and the forest areas it is dependent on. Further research will enable us to manage and preserve this species.
Five species of primate currently exist in South Africa; the chacma baboon (Papio ursinus), the vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops), the greater bush baby (Otolemur crassicaudatus), the lesser bush baby (Galago moholi) and the threatened samango monkey (Cercopithcus.mitis). The distribution of the samango is closely correlated with the distribution of Indian Ocean coastal belt, Scarp and Afromontane forests – from the northern most population in the Soutpansberg forests in Limpopo to the southern-most populations in the Amatola forests in the Eastern Cape.
As the samango monkey is restricted to forest habitat and is a seed dispersing species, it is listed as Vulnerable in the Red Data Book of the Mammals of South Africa (2004) with samango subspecies - C. m. labiatus - occurring on the IUCN (2007) Endangered list making research into populations necessary to identify if management and further protection is needed.

   Samango Baby at Site 1 – Trail Camera, August 2017
  Bushbuck baby at Site 1 – Trail Camera, August 2017     
Bushbuck ram at the same spot           


Non-invasive methods to collect data about troop size, sex/age ratios, behaviour, and food sources will be obtained by filling in focal or scan ethograms, using wildlife trap cameras, digital photographs and collecting fecal samples.  By getting involved in this research, participants will make a real contribution to the protection of samango monkeys in The Midlands.

What you will need:
 Participants are advised to bring the following items: backpack, camera, rubber gloves, gumboots (optional), raincoat, clipboard with both writing paper and drawing paper, 2B pencil, rubber, sharpener and pen, rainproof file to keep notes in, ruler or tape measure, sturdy high-top hiking shoes, binoculars (optional), water bottle, mosquito repellent, flashlight (torch), personal prescription medications and, if applicable, a list of known allergies and special medical conditions.

                                                        Walking Wild

Tracking a forest-restricted species like the samango monkey ensures that you will be spending much of your time surrounded by the sounds, smells and sights that are associated with mist-belt forests.

Heightening our Senses:
Our daily habits in the western world have rendered our senses less acute. Excessive media consumption, multitasking, and out-of-control thoughts affect them greatly. This habit hampers our ability to track wild animals hence one of the things we will focus on is heightening our awareness. By fine-tuning our senses by employing various techniques, we will increase our awareness. This brings us closer to our wilder selves – a part of the psyche we’ve lost while living in the modern world.
 Reconnecting with Wilderness:
Reconnecting with nature will benefit our relationship to the environment as well. As a result of the “domestication process” we have experienced since birth in the modern world, we are separated from nature physically, mentally and spiritually. This disconnection causes us to easily fall into daily patterns that contribute to harming the planet we rely on to survive.
Reconnecting with nature ensures that we live with the constant reminder how taking from the earth negatively impacts on our long term survival.




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